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Let’s Talk Turkey Hunting: Lessons from Fort Thompson’s Finest - Fort Thompson

Let’s Talk Turkey Hunting: Lessons from Fort Thompson’s Finest

Our 2024 turkey hunting season is right around the corner. Heck in some states, it’s here! At Fort Thompson, we love all things hunting so we’ve sat down with two of our favorite turkey hunters to get the scoop on how it’s done. From experience and strategies to regulations and advice, we’ve got all the deets from Chandler and Ray. 

Chandler is a local turkey hunting enthusiast who works at Fort Thompson in our Wader department. He has been with Fort Thompson for about a year, and his favorite thing about Fort Thompson is our overall environment. While Chandler enjoys hunting turkey, he lives for duck hunts. If money were no object, he’d buy all the Sitka Gear we carry. 

If you don’t know Ray, you don’t know Fort Thompson. He’s been our general manager for about two years! When he’s not hunting, he’s up here at our counter chatting with our customers and making sure things run smoothly. Ray has been with Fort Thompson for going on 20 years (this September!) and honestly, we don’t know what we’d do without him.  While he enjoys turkey hunting, Ray’s favorite game is deer. 

How long have you been hunting?

Chandler: Since I was 4 years old. So that makes it just about 16 years of hunting. 

Ray: I’ve hunted turkey for going on 10 years.

What species of turkeys so you prefer hunting?

Chandler: Just Easterns. 

Ray: Mainly Rios. 

What’s your biggest turkey hunting accomplishment?

Chandler: My biggest kill happened at a rare time: 3 o’clock in the afternoon. It was super cool. That’s usually when I’m going to locate where they are for the next day, but that day, I bagged my biggest turkey.

Ray: shakes head Probably that time I killed two turkeys with one shot. (this is all I could get out of him, stop by Fort Thompson in Sherwood, Arkansas to hear the full story) 

Do you prefer spot-and-stalk hunting or using blinds/decoys?

Chandler: Spot-and-stalk hunting for me. It’s easier to bag a gobbler and just all-around more fun and challenging. 

Ray: I use both methods, but prefer to spot-and-stalk if given the choice. 

What scouting techniques do you use to locate turkeys?

Chandler: I scout in the afternoon to see where they’re going to roost. Knowing where they roost gives you a leg up for the next morning because you’ll know exactly where they’re sleeping.

Ray: Using those locator calls! 

Describe your typical strategy for attracting turkeys?

Chandler: I use my mouth call to attract a henned-up turkey, and then, towards the end, when I’m luring him in, I switch to my slate call to get a more realistic sound.

Ray: First, you use the locator to find the turkey. Once you’ve found them, switch to a mouth call to lure that gobbler away from his hen!

What factors do you consider when choosing a location to set up your blind or ambush point?

C: Typically, I look for a good straight limb tree because that’s where they like to roost. 

R: I set up by where they roost. 

Pick your poison: 12 or 20 gauge?

C: Oooh, that’s a good question! 20 gauge

R: 20 gauge, obviously

Describe your typical turkey hunting camo:

C: Natural Gear’s Spring Line does a really great job of hiding you in the wood. Turkeys have really good eyesight and they can see more than you think. I wear a hat, face mask, and vest;  I’m covered from head to toe, really. 

R: Sitka. All Sitka Subalpine top to bottom

What essential gear do you always carry on a turkey hunt? 

C: WATER! I’ve always got an extra call on me too just in case. I also keep extra sandpaper to condition my slate call. 

R: My conditioning kit is the only extra I need. 

What ethical considerations do you take into account when turkey hunting? 

R: Know your weapon of choice. Know your limits. Know the range at which it can shoot. Without figuring that out, you can’t hunt ethically. 

How do you stay up to date on local turkey hunting regs and game laws?

C: The internet is the best way to stay updated. 

R: The internet… it’s 2024. 

Check Out the Arkansas Turkey Regulations Here

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest challenges facing wild turkey populations today?

C: I remember seeing my grandpa get the critters that steal turkey eggs, like raccoons, but they can’t catch the little guys anymore. So, I think that’s a big part of the issue: other animals can come and go as they please to take the turkey eggs and it hurts the wild turkey population. 

What advice would you give to someone who is new to turkey hunting?

C: Don’t go! Just kidding! Watch and learn. Watch how your fellow experienced hunters go about their hunt. See what tools they use. Figure out what works best for you. 

R: Yeah, don’t go! But seriously, learn your calls. Without a proper turkey call, you’re not going to get very far. 

That's a Wrap!

Thanks for joining us, Chandler and Ray! We learned a ton about the art of turkey hunting, from essential gear to ethical considerations. It's clear you both have a wealth of experience and passion for the sport.

For all our turkey hunting enthusiasts out there, remember:

  • Do your research! Stay up-to-date on local regulations and brush up on your turkey calls before hitting the woods.
  • Respect the game. Hunt ethically and sustainably to ensure healthy turkey populations for generations to come.
  • Learn from the experts! Take Chandler and Ray's advice to heart, whether you're a seasoned hunter or just starting out.

And hey, if you're looking to gear up for your next turkey hunt, stop by Fort Thompson or shop with us online! We've got everything you need, from camo and calls to expert advice from Chandler and Ray.

Happy hunting!